Vsevolod Tarasevich at work in Leningrad, 1942Unknown author/MAMM/MDF
Vsevolod Tarasevich at work, 1967Oleg Makarov/MAMM/MDF
It is hard to imagine an aspect of Soviet life that was not reflected in the work of Vsevolod Tarasevich (1919-1998). He shot photo reports from all across the country, with portraits of ordinary people, from miners to collective farmers. Although his pictures largely chimed with what Soviet propaganda wanted to see in the newspapers, his enduring legacy is true to life.
When the photographer was barely 20 years old, he served on the Eastern Front of WWII as a correspondent for the TASS news agency. He photographed trenches and frontline battles, producing images full of grit and vitality. Among the most famous of this period are his pictures of the besieged Leningrad, taken, as he himself recalled, on an old Leica (a type of Soviet camera). Although the censors did not allow depictions of the real horrors of the war and the blockade, he felt compelled to document what was really happening in the city. Tarasevich was also one of the first to photograph the former tsarist palaces outside Leningrad (St Petersburg) destroyed by the Germans.
"War has come to Leningrad." The shelling of Dostoevsky Street, 1941
Tarasevich's peacetime work stands in stark contrast to his war series. Smiling faces, joyful pioneers, the simple pleasures of a peaceful life...
The Virgin Lands campaign to develop agriculture was a priority for the Soviet authorities. Tarasevich traveled all over the country, photographing people of various professions: collective farmers, miners, builders and many others. A separate photo report was devoted to geologists — one of the most fashionable and prestigious post-war professions.
In the 1960s, Tarasevich actively documented the work of engineers, design bureaus, universities and laboratories.
The extent of Tarasevich's creative and professional range can be glimpsed from his advertising photography.
Tarasevich is considered the most romantic of Soviet post-war photographers. His treatment of chiaroscuro and unexpected angles and compositions create the impression of truly “being there”.
The photographer captured both perestroika and the collapse of the USSR. And although a totally transformed country now loomed through his lens, he concerned himself with the same subjects, from hi-tech to scenes of urban life.
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